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BACKGROUND: Using other central nervous system (CNS) medications in combination with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment is common. Despite this, there is limited evidence on the impact on suicidal behavior of combining specific medications. We aim to provide evidence on signals for suicidal behavior risk when initiating CNS drugs during and outside of SSRI treatment. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using a linkage of Swedish national registers, we identified a national cohort of SSRI users aged 6-59 years residing in Sweden 2006-2013. We used a two-stage Bayesian Poisson model to estimate the incidence rate ratio (IRR) of suicidal behavior in periods up to 90 days before and after a CNS drug initiation during SSRI treatment, while accounting for multiple testing. For comparison, and to assess whether there were interactions between SSRIs and other CNS drugs, we also estimated the IRR of initiating the CNS drug without SSRI treatment. RESULTS: We identified 53 common CNS drugs initiated during SSRI treatment, dispensed to 262,721 individuals. We found 20 CNS drugs with statistically significant IRRs. Of these, two showed a greater risk of suicidal behavior after versus before initiating the CNS drug (alprazolam, IRR = 1.39; flunitrazepam, IRR = 1.83). We found several novel signals of drugs that were statistically significantly associated with a reduction in the suicidal behavior risk. We did not find evidence of harmful interactions between SSRIs and the selected CNS drugs. CONCLUSION: Several of the detected signals for reduced risk correspond to drugs where there is previous evidence of benefit for antidepressant augmentation (e.g., olanzapine, quetiapine, lithium, buspirone, and mirtazapine). Novel signals of reduced suicidal behavior risk, including for lamotrigine, valproic acid, risperidone, and melatonin, warrant further investigation.

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Conference paper

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Bayesian, central nervous system drugs, screening study, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, suicidal behavior